Bordering society: Understanding and Reimagining migration, displacement and diversity in an age of rapid transformations

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The Exchange, University of Birmingham
5-6 September 2024

Keynote speakers:

Rapidly shifting geopolitical alliances and power asymmetries in an increasingly multipolar landscape rekindle old conflicts and ignite new ones, destabilising an ever-increasing number of regions along the way. The consequences reverberate across the globe, but especially in the Global South. This is also where the vast majority of those displaced are to be found, despite the fear-mongering and moral panic over migration in the Western liberal democracies. What is particularly harrowing and somewhat unique in this particular moment is the interplay between geopolitics and the everyday. We can today witness the violence of forced displacement in real time, be it for conflict or climate breakdown, the suffering of those expelled, but also their ingenuity and resistance. We follow new alliances been forged across space and time, as seemingly disparate and geographically distant struggles and peoples unite under a shared generational colonial trauma and racialisation. Galvanised by the BLM movement, the Arab Spring, decolonisation discourses but also gender and queer politics, a new solidarity has emerged between the ‘wretched of the earth’ (Fanon 1963).

In this volatile global context, migration and borders are ever more relevant. The increasing numbers of those displaced by war and other forms of state violence, by environmental disasters and the ensuing poverty and insecurity, but also by aspirations for a better life, reveal, now more than ever, the complexities of migration. In the face of such mobilities, border regimes in the Western liberal democracies become tighter, more selective and exclusive, more technologically sophisticated, and at times brutally violent: more deaths and injuries at the border, as migrants are pushed towards dangerous geographies (seas, mountains, and deserts), through war-torn regions, more surveillance and pre-emptive action, and more erratic and cruel ‘solutions’ aimed to externalise asylum and protection away from sovereign territory (e.g. the Rwanda plan in the UK or Italy’s deal with Albania).

Racialised migrants, especially those from poor backgrounds, are vilified, often criminalised, targeted at will by the authorities in an effort to appease public opinion and the moral panic stirred by political entrepreneurs from across the political spectrum, particularly as we move into the ‘Ultimate Election Year’ in which 49% of the globe’s population will be called to vote in 64 countries and regions including India, the US, the EU, the UK but also Iran, Indonesia and Mexico.

How do these changes in the global order and international migration shape research on migration today? What new concepts and theories do we need to address the challenges and opportunities of migration-driven diversity? How do local, national, international and transnational processes interact? How do migrants and local communities respond to and act upon these rapidly changing scenarios? How changing political and legal infrastructures impact on the lives of migrants and racialised communities across generations? How does the study of migration need to change to be ready for the transformations in the decade ahead?

This international conference seeks to address such questions and look at key dimensions of contemporary migration studies research, in the face of such complex geopolitical and political landscape. We particularly welcome submissions on the following, non-exhaustive, list of themes:

  • Politics, policies and everyday experiences of migration, citizenship and diversity  
  • Narratives, cultures and histories of mobility, displacement and diasporas  
  • Methods and ethics of research on displacement, migration and diversity 
  • Wellbeing, health and integration 
  • Displacement, borders, and infrastructures of migration and asylum  
  • Gender, youth and family and transnationalism 

Submission Guidelines

Abstracts for papers, panels and workshops should be submitted electronically, using the online submission page by Wednesday, 27 March 2024.

  • Paper: Submissions should include an abstract (max 250 words) and short biographical note (max 100 words) about the author/s including their current position and research interests.

  • Panel (3 or 4 papers and a discussant): submissions should include an overview abstract (max 250 words) and an abstract for each of associated papers (250 words each) and a short biographical note for each speaker and the discussant (max 100 words each).

  • Workshop (up to 6 speakers and a chair): Submissions should include an overview abstract explaining the rationale and key questions to be discussed in the session (max 500 words) and a short bio for each speaker (max 100 words). The aim of workshops is to create a space for a more informal conversation on core and emerging themes in migration studies.  

Acceptance decisions will be communicated by Friday 19 April 2024.

Presentation Format: The selected papers will be grouped by theme (please indicate if your proposal aligns with one of the key themes listed in the CfP) in parallel sessions. Each panel and workshop will be allocated a 90-minute slot. Each paper will last 15-20 minutes with Q&A at the end of each panel.

Conference fees, travel and accommodation expenses should be covered by participants. Concessions are available for PhD students, civil society and migrant organisations, activists, practitioners, and community organisers. Conference dinner to be booked separately.

  • Full fee: £175 / Concession £ 90
  • One-day fee: £ 90 / Concession £50
  • Online fee: £90 (attendance online will give access only to keynotes, semi-plenaries and a limited number of panel sessions)

There are a limited number of registration fee waivers for speakers from disadvantaged backgrounds. If your proposal has been selected and you want to apply for a fee waiver, please send us via email ( a cover letter (no more than 500 words) explaining the reason for your request. 

For further information: please contact Ann Bolstridge, IRiS Adminstrator: